Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Wörterbuch der Japanischen Sprache. Erste Lieferung (Dictionary of the Japanese Language. First Volume) [FIRST JAPANESE-GERMAN DICTIONARY]

Vienna: Carld Gerold und Sohn, 1851. First edition. Softcover. Folio. (xi) [1] 80pp. Printed b/w wrappers with black lettering and decorative motifs on the front cover and spine. This first attempt at a Japanese-German dictionary, was created by German orientalist and linguist August Pfizmaier (1808-1887). Finely printed at the Armenian Catholic Mekhitarist Monestary in Vienna.

The work is comprised only of Japanese words and phrases beginning with the "i" (ee) syllable, so it remains a very partial first effort to translate between German and Japanese. The content is laid out in a two-column format, with Japanese text (in both Kanji and Katakana) printed on one page. The pages opposite all contain the transliteration of each of the words into Roman script (demonstrating pronunciation), with both a German translation, and an abbreviated English translation. There is a total of 1046 words/phrases included. All text is finely printed.

It is remarkable that this early text was published two years before Commodore Matthew Perry's famed arrival in Tokyo Bay, which initiated the opening of Japan to the West. At this time only a handful of German speakers were known to have ever visited Japan. Since Pfizmaier himself had never visited Japan, he had to rely on some previous scholarship and secondhand sources for his work. This work and Pfizmaier's Japanese grammar, "Der Almanach der Kleinbambusfarbigen Schalen" (The Almanac of Small Bamboo Colored Bowls, 1868-69), are known to have been, at least in part, based on the earlier Dutch-Japanese dictionary "Nieuw Verzameld Japans en Hollandsch Woordenboek" (1810), compiled by Okudaira Masataka (奥平昌高, aka Minamoto Masataka, 1781-1855), the daimyo of Nakatsu. Additional sources claimed by Pfizmaier in the preface are the Chinese/Japanese/Korean dictionary included in "Bibliotheca Japonica" (1833-1941) by Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold (1796 – 1866), a scarce and un-attributed Dutch-Chinese dictionary printed in Japan ("Nederduitsche Taal"), and two other Chinese-Japanese dictionaries. The author also discusses some other sources he used from Japanese texts, and other publications in the history of translating Japanese into western languages.

No additional volumes of this work were ever issued, and surprisingly it was not until 62 years later that the first complete German-Japanese dictionary, created by Rudolf Lange, was published ("Thesaurus Japonicus", 1913-1920).

Wrappers with light age toning and rubbing to extremities. Some chipping to the spine. Only the most minor sporadic small water stains throughout. Book block tight, with text clean and vibrant .Wrappers in very good-, interior in near fine condition. Quite scarce. Protected in modern mylar. vg- to near fine. Item #50233

Alternate title: Woerterbuch der Japanischen Sprache.

Price: $1,500.00

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